Under both the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, visitation (which is also sometimes called “parenting time”) is allowed between a non-residential or non-custodial parent and their minor children. Many parties that have already been to court and have obtained a custody judgment or parenting agreement already have a holiday visitation/parenting time schedule incorporated therein. However, some parties may have omitted holiday parenting time in their judgments or agreements.
The way that holiday parenting time is handled varies. If you are setting holiday parenting time schedules for the first time it is best to take into consideration what the parties’ plans will be for the holiday season when setting up visitation. For example, if Mother always travels to Florida to spend Christmas with her family, then Mother would likely want a visitation schedule that would give her both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in alternating years, as opposed to Mother taking Christmas Eve and Father taking Christmas day, or vice versa. If Mother is taking Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in all odd years, then we would likely give Father Thanksgiving and/or New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in odd years. This allows each party to have one major holiday each year (Thanksgiving or Christmas) and allows the parent that is not having the children for Christmas to see them over their winter break from school for New Year’s.
Another way to set up holiday visitation is to split the holidays equally down the middle. For example, Mother takes Christmas Eve in odd years and Father takes Christmas Day in odd years. However, in even years, Mother Takes Christmas Day and Father takes Christmas Eve. This scenario works best in situations where they parties spend the holidays at home, or in a location where it is convenient to do a visitation exchange. It is best to take into consideration the parties’ usual plans for the holidays when coming to an agreement. No one wants to have to interrupt their holiday time with family and friends to do a visitation exchange. The parties should try to cooperate for the benefit of their children and should always encourage the children to spend time with their other parent, especially during the holidays.
If you do not currently have a holiday visitation schedule set up for your children, or you are displeased with your current schedule, please contact our office for a consultation. Our attorneys have experience in designing comprehensive visitation schedules that best suit our clients and are happy to help you do so.